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Lockheed Replaces Chief of Beleaguered F-35 Program

Sputnik – 31.10.2015

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 has been an undeniable embarrassment for the US military. Perhaps, at last, the company is starting to realize its faults, as it adjusts the program’s management team.

After spending nearly $400 billion on its development, the F-35 has seen its share of problems, despite being the most expensive piece of military hardware ever created. In addition to concerns that the jet’s software was vulnerable to cyberattack, the F-35’s fundamental performance capabilities have also been called into question.

“The jet fighter lacks the sensors weapons and speed that allow a warplane to reliably detect and shoot down other planes in combat,” a report from War is Boring reads. “At least not compared to modern Chinese- and Russian-made jets – the planes the F035 is most likely to face in battle in some future war.”

Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin was behind the jet, with the program being led by Lorraine Martin.

But on Friday, the company announced a shakeup. Lorraine Martin is out, to be replaced by her deputy, Jeff Babione.

“He brings a deep understanding of the F-35 program, strong customer relationships and a collaborative leadership style that will ensure we continue the positive momentum of the program,” Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Aeronautics, said in a statement.

While the company didn’t elaborate on the reason for the change in management, Lockheed has experienced a couple of major setbacks in recent weeks.

Almost immediately after winning office earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau announced that his administration would pull out of the US-led coalition over Iraq and Syria. That means the new Liberal government will also be abandoning the F-35 program.

During his campaign, Trudeau said he would launch a new contracting competition to update the military’s aging fleet.

Earlier this week, Lockheed also lost a major defense contract to rival Northrop Grumman. A joint-team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin were competing against Northrop for the Pentagon’s contract to develop the next generation Long Range Strike-Bomber. Needed to replace the US Air Force’s fleet of B-1 and B-52s, the contract is estimated to be worth over $100 billion.

Prior to the Pentagon’s announcement, Lockheed-Boeing was expected to win.

While military officials refused to specify what went into their decision making process, it’s hard to imagine that the ballooning costs of the F-35 program didn’t play some role.

Martin will move to a newly created position of deputy executive vice president for Mission Systems and Training, through which she will oversee the company’s acquisition of Sikorsky helicopters.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Le Figaro poll: Over 70% want Syria’s Assad to remain in power

RT | October 31, 2015

A recent poll carried out by France’s Le Figaro newspaper has indicated that at least 72 percent of respondents want Syrian President Bashar Assad to remain in power.

The survey, published on Thursday, asked: “Should world powers demand Bashar Assad to leave?” At least 28 percent from 21,314 respondents have voted “Yes” so far, while the majority – 72 percent – have said “No”.

The poll was conducted ahead of the Vienna talks, where 19 global powers gathered to find a solution for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The fate of Assad remained the stumbling block during discussions.

The US and its allies including Saudi Arabia repeatedly said the Syrian president, whose term expires in 2021, must resign.

“There is no way President Assad can unite and govern Syria,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said during the meeting, adding, “Syrians deserve a different choice.”

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian people “should define the future of their country… including Assad’s fate.”

Earlier in October, a member of Moscow’s parliamentary delegation told TASS that Assad had agreed to hold preliminary elections in the country, provided the move has the people’s backing.

Syria has been caught up in a civil war since 2011, when violent protests erupted as part of the so-called Arab spring. During the turmoil, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) militants managed to capture large amounts of territory in Syria and Iraq.

On September 30, Moscow launched a military operation targeting IS positions following a formal request from Assad.

READ MORE: Vienna talks: 19 global powers to work to establish nationwide Syria ceasefire

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Fighting a Cultural Boycott of Israel

By Lawrence Davidson | Consortium News | October 30, 2015

There is a new British organization called Culture for Coexistence with the aim of ending the cultural boycott of Israel, which has been relatively effective in raising public awareness of oppressive Zionist policies, and replace it with “open dialogue” and “cultural engagement.“ A “galaxy of 150 British artists and authors” signed an open letter published in the Guardian newspaper on Oct. 22 announcing the group’s position:

“Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace,” while “open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.”

While concepts such as open dialogue and cultural interaction are, in principle, hard to disagree with, their efficacy as agents of conflict resolution has to be judged within a historical context. In other words, such approaches are effective when circumstances dictate that all parties seriously dialogue and interact meaningfully – in a manner that actually promotes “mutual acceptance.”

Is this the case when it comes to Israel? The burden of proof here is on Culture for Coexistence because they are the ones asking the Palestinians and their supporters to put aside a strategy (boycott) that is actually putting pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously.

The Culture for Coexistence signatories do not address this question of efficacy. Instead they make the simple assertion that cultural boycotts are bad and won’t help resolve the conflict while cultural interaction is good and will work to that end. How do they know this? Without evidence of its workability, such an assertion is merely an idealization of cultural engagement that ignores that pursuit’s historical futility during a nearly century long conflict.

Do Israeli Leaders Want a Just Peace?

Cultural interaction with Israel went on for decades before the boycott effort got going. It had no impact on the issue of conflict resolution. Such cultural activity certainly did not change the fact that Israel’s leaders have never shown interest in negotiating a resolution with the Palestinians except solely on Israeli terms.

And, that stubbornness is a major part of the reason why peace talks (and also the Oslo agreements) never worked. There is a whole set of histories, written by Israelis and based on archival research that support the claim that Israel has not sought a just resolution to the conflict. Here I would recommend the Culture for Coexistence signatories read the books of the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

Given this historical Zionist attitude, what sort of “greater understanding and mutual acceptance” does Culture and Coexistence expect to accomplish by swapping the boycott for “cultural engagement”? It is a question the signatories of the open letter might address to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just recently was reported to have proclaimed that Israel will control all Palestinian land indefinitely.

The “galaxy of British artists and authors” aligned with Culture for Coexistence seems oblivious to all these contextual issues. Of course, there is a good chance that some of them are more interested in undermining the boycott of Israel than in the alleged promotion of peace through “cultural engagement.”

As the Guardian article discussing the group notes, “Some of the network’s supporters are closely aligned with Israel,” including individuals associated with Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel.

Does Cultural Contact Lead to Peace?

There is another, more generic misunderstanding exhibited in the group’s statement. It is found in the letter’s closing assertion that “cultural engagement builds bridges, nurtures freedom and positive movement for change” – a position reiterated when Loraine da Costa, chairperson of the new organization, told the Guardian that “culture has a unique ability to bring people together and bridge division.”

No matter how you want to define culture, high or low, there is no evidence for this position except on the level of individuals or small groups. On the level of larger or whole populations, the assertion that “cultural engagement builds bridges” is another naive idealization that is belied by historical practice. Historically, culture has always divided people (both across borders and across classes) and acted as a barrier to understanding. At a popular level, most people are uninterested in, or suspicious of, foreign cultures and are unwilling to try to pursue cultural interaction.

Israel is a very good example of this cultural xenophobia. Historically, the European Jews who established the state despised Arab culture. They tried to eradicate it among the Mizrahi Jews who came to Israel from Arab lands. This intra-Jewish Israeli prejudice is still a problem today. What aspects of Arab culture (mostly having to do with cuisine) Israeli Jews are attracted to they try to repackage as “Israeli.”

There are two final considerations here: First is the need to be serious and clear in the use of language. One can, of course, say “culture has a unique ability to bring people together” but is this a statement that has any real meaning or is it just a platitude?

And second: If you are going to give advice about a century-old conflict you should know enough about its history to be sensible in your offering. Thus, in this case, if you know that high or low cultural intercourse with Israel (and, as suggested above, there has been plenty of it since the founding of the state in 1948), has actually improved the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, you should lay out the evidence. However, if one is just offering a banal cliche, well, only the ignorant can take that seriously.

Those who first proposed the cultural boycott did not do it out of some anti-Semitic dislike for Israeli artworks, music, literature or theater. They did it because cultural interaction with Israel had not only failed to promote an equitable peace, but in fact camouflaged the policies of a nation-state that practices ethnic cleansing and other destructive policies against non-Jews.

The logical conclusion was drawn that if you want to pressure the Israelis to change their ways, you withdraw from cultural contact and make any reconnection a condition of their getting serious about conflict resolution.

How is it that the 150 artists and authors who signed the Culture for Coexistence open letter do not know the relevant facts? Setting aside the confirmed Zionists, whose ulterior motive is pretty clear, do these people take this stand because it “feels right” – that is, because they believe cultural interaction ought to, or even must, promote conflict resolution? Alas, this is wishful thinking and, taking history seriously, Palestine may go extinct before such an approach actually helps lead to a just peace.


Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protecting Israel, Trashing Hebron: More Spin from The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | October 30, 2015

Today in The New York Times we have a look at Hebron, a blood-drenched city in the West Bank, a community besieged by violent settlers and trigger-happy Israeli forces. In this month alone, some 20 of its Palestinian residents have died at the hands of soldiers and police, their deaths sometimes caught on video that belies official accounts.

But this grim reality is not the focus in the Times. The article by Diaa Hadid and Rami Nazzal strips the full context of the occupation from Hebron and presents it, not as a city struggling to survive under crushing oppression, but as a hotbed of Palestinian radicals, a stronghold of the oft-demonized Hamas.

The story takes us to the funeral of Dania Irsheid (identified as Dania al-Husseini in the Times), a schoolgirl shot at a checkpoint on Sunday. It mentions other deaths in recent days, but it completely avoids the eyewitness accounts and human rights organization findings that show many of these deaths were extrajudicial executions.

Israel has callously refused to release the bodies of most of the 20 victims, and we read that residents feel “particular outrage” over the death of Dania and another girl, Bayan Oseili, 16, killed a week before, both accused of stabbing attacks. The story deftly avoids another compelling reason for this outrage: the fact that both obviously posed no threat and could have been arrested and that video footage in the case of Bayan and eyewitness accounts in the case of Irsheid contradict police claims.

Hadid and Nazzal, however, have nothing to say about these contradictions and write that residents are angry because the refusal to release the bodies is an “affront to the Muslim tradition of immediate burial and a defilement of their honor.”

This fits neatly into the Times’ attempt to spin the oppression in Hebron into more blaming of the victims, who are described as Hamas followers and culturally conservative. The article opens with a quote from a Hebron resident who applauds knife attacks on Israeli soldiers, and it closes with the same speaker who “was pleased to see the surge in violence turn to Hebron.”

Missing entirely are any comments from nonviolent Hebron activists and the accounts of eyewitnesses who say Israeli forces have planted knives near the bodies of victims. The story also omits some chilling reports of deliberate executions and the statements of human rights groups that raise the charge of extrajudicial killings.

One of the most disturbing accounts describes the death of a young man, Islam Ibeidu, 23, on Wednesday near the Kirya Arba settlement. The news outlet Middle East Eye noted, “According to the quoted eyewitness, Ibeidu was searched by Israeli soldiers by the checkpoint and released, before orders were given to execute him.”

One witness tweeted: “I saw everything. I saw soldiers loading the guns. He had his arms up and was shaking, he was unarmed and they just shot him.” A second tweet continues, “eyewitness overheard police woman say ‘he looks nice, shoot him’ before he was shot to death by m16 from 2 meters away.”

The accounts of other deaths are equally disturbing (see TimesWarp 10-27-15), but the Times story includes none of them. It states that the victims this month died “in demonstrations and attacks,” taking the official Israeli line as fact.

On the other hand, the article refers frequently to Hamas in an effort to tie the group to the violence in Hebron. It makes no mention of several non-violent groups active in the city, such as Youth Against Settlements, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the International Solidarity Movement and the UN mandated Temporary International Presence in Hebron.

All of these organizations are avowedly non-violent; they observe and document violence against Palestinians. Yet another group, Breaking the Silence, was founded by Israeli soldiers who had served in Hebron and now collect and document Israeli army abuses. None of these organizations has a voice in the Times story.

Much of Hebron’s agony dates back to March, 1994, when an American-born settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 worshippers in the Ibahimi Mosque. Hadid mentions this as part of the historical record but omits the brutal Israeli crackdown that followed.

Rather than act to protect Palestinians after this attack, Israeli security forces went on to kill some 20 more Hebron residents during protests and to lock them down under a round-the-clock curfew. The government also closed once bustling Shuhada Street to all Palestinian traffic, welded shut Palestinian shops, turned the street over to settlers and divided the mosque into Jewish and Muslim sections.

This finds no clarification in the Times story, which refers vaguely to a “volatile mix of Palestinians and Jewish settlers.” Instead, the newspaper has adopted the official playbook of the occupiers: Stick to the narrative of Israeli victimhood, ignore countervailing fact, and whenever possible blame Hamas.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Mainstream Media, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

71 Palestinians, Including 12 Children, 2 Infants And A Pregnant Woman, Killed This Month

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By Celine Hagbard | IMEMC News | October 31, 2015

Three Palestinians were killed Friday, including a baby who suffocated to death from tear gas in Bethlehem a day after Israeli forces tore through a Bethlehem neighborhood shouting “We will gas you all to death”.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that 921 Palestinians have been shot and injured with live Israeli army rounds, since the beginning of this month, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while 855 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and 208 suffered fractures and bruises after being assaulted and beaten by soldiers and fanatic settlers.

Palestinians Killed On Friday:

Baby Suffocates to Death from Tear Gas near Bethlehem

Palestinian killed near light rail station in Jerusalem following alleged stabbing of soldier

One Palestinian Killed, Another Seriously Injured, Near Nablus

The names of those killed by the army in October:

West Bank and Jerusalem:

1. Mohannad Halabi, 19, al-Biereh – Ramallah. Shot after allegedly grabbing gun and killing two Israelis. 10/3
2. Fadi Alloun, 19, Jerusalem. Israeli claim of ‘attack’ contradicted by eyewitnesses and video. 10/4
3. Amjad Hatem al-Jundi, 17, Hebron.
4. Thaer Abu Ghazala, 19, Jerusalem.
5. Abdul-Rahma Obeidallah, 11, Bethlehem.
6. Hotheifa Suleiman, 18, Tulkarem.
7. Wisam Jamal Faraj, 20, Jerusalem. Shot by an exploding bullet during protest. 10/8
8. Mohammad al-Ja’bari, 19, Hebron.
9. Ahmad Jamal Salah, 20, Jerusalem.
10. Ishaq Badran, 19, Jerusalem. Israeli claim of ‘attack’ contradicted by eyewitnesses. 10/10
11. Mohammad Said Ali, 19, Jerusalem.
12. Ibrahim Ahmad Mustafa Awad, 28, Hebron. Shot at protest by rubber-coated steel bullet in his forehead. 10/11
13. Ahmad Abdullah Sharaka, 13, Al Jalazoun Refugee camp-Ramallah.
14. Mostafa Al Khateeb, 18, Sur-Baher – Jerusalem.
15. Hassan Khalid Manassra, 15, Jerusalem.
16. Mohammad Nathmie Shamassnah, 22, Kutneh-Jerusalem.
17. Baha’ Elian, 22, Jabal Al Mokaber-Jerusalem.
18. Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahra, 27, Bethlehem. Hit with a live bullet in the chest during a demonstration.
19. Ala’ Abu Jammal, 33, Jerusalem.
20. Bassem Bassam Sidr, 17, Hebron.
21. Ahmad Abu Sh’aban, 23, Jerusalem.
22. Riyadh Ibraheem Dar-Yousif, 46, Al Janyia village Ramallah( Killed while harvesting olives)
23. Fadi Al-Darbi , 30, Jenin – died in Israeli detention camp.
24. Eyad Khalil Al Awawdah, Hebron.
25. Ihab Hannani, 19, Nablus.
26. Fadel al-Qawasmi, 18, Hebron. Shot by paramilitary settler, Israeli soldier caught on film planting knife near his body.
27. Mo’taz Ahmad ‘Oweisat, 16, Jerusalem. Military claimed he ‘had a knife’. 10/17
28. Bayan Abdul-Wahab al-‘Oseyli, 16, Hebron. Military claimed she ‘had a knife’, but video evidence contradicts that claim. 10/17
29. Tariq Ziad an-Natsha, 22, Hebron. 10/17
30. Omar Mohammad al-Faqeeh, 22, Qalandia. Military claimed he ‘had a knife’. 10/17
31. Mohannad al-‘Oqabi, 21, Negev. Allegedly killed soldier in bus station in Beer Sheba.
32. Hoda Mohammad Darweesh, 65, Jerusalem.
33. Hamza Mousa Al Amllah, 25, from Hebron, killed near Gush Etzion settlement.
34. Odai Hashem al-Masalma, 24, Beit ‘Awwa town near Hebron.
35. Hussam Isma’el Al Ja’bari, 18, Hebron.
36. Bashaar Nidal Al Ja’bari, 15, Hebron.
37. Hashem al-‘Azza, 54, Hebron.
38. Moa’taz Attalah Qassem, 22, Eezariyya town near Jerusalem. 10/21
39. Mahmoud Khalid Eghneimat, 20, Hebron.
40. Ahmad Mohammad Said Kamil, Jenin.
41. Dania Jihad Irshied, 17, Hebron.
42. Sa’id Mohamed Yousif Al-Atrash, 20, Hebron.
43. Raed Sakit Abed Al Raheem Thalji Jaradat, 22, Sa’er – Hebron.
44. Eyad Rouhi Ihjazi Jaradat, 19, Sa’er – Hebron.
45. Ezzeddin Nadi Sha’ban Abu Shakhdam, 17, Hebron. Shot by Israeli military after allegedly wounding soldier, then left to bleed to death.
46. Shadi Nabil Dweik, 22, Hebron. Shot by Israeli military after allegedly wounding the same soldier, then left to bleed to death.
47. Homam Adnan Sa’id, 23,Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Shot by Israeli soldiers claiming ‘he had a knife’, but eyewitnesses report seeing soldiers throwing a knife next to his dead body. 10/27
48. Islam Rafiq Obeid, 23, Tel Rumeida, Hebron. 10/28
49. Nadim Eshqeirat, 52, Jerusalem. 10/29 – Died when Israeli soldiers delayed his ambulance.
50. Mahdi Mohammad Ramadan al-Mohtasib, 23, Hebron. 10/29
51. Farouq Abdul-Qader Seder, 19, Hebron. 10/29
52. Qassem Saba’na, 20, shot on motorcycle near Zaatara checkpoint. 10/30
53. Ahmad Hamada Qneibi, 23, Jerusalem. Soldiers claimed ‘he had a knife’.
54. Ramadan Mohammad Faisal Thawabta, 8 month old baby, Bethlehem. Died of tear gas inhalation.

Gaza Strip:

55. Shadi Hussam Doula, 20.
56. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman al-Harbawi, 20.
57. Abed al-Wahidi, 20.
58. Mohammad Hisham al-Roqab, 15.
59. Adnan Mousa Abu ‘Oleyyan, 22.
60. Ziad Nabil Sharaf, 20.
61. Jihad al-‘Obeid, 22.
62. Marwan Hisham Barbakh, 13.
63. Khalil Omar Othman, 15.
64. Nour Rasmie Hassan, 30. Killed along with her child in an Israeli airstrike. 10/11
65. Rahaf Yihiya Hassan, two years old. Killed along with her mother in an Israeli airstrike. 10/11
66. Yihya Abdel-Qader Farahat, 23.
67. Shawqie Jamal Jaber Obed, 37.
68. Mahmoud Hatem Hameeda, 22. Northern Gaza. 69. Ahmad al-Sarhi, 27, al-Boreij.
70. Yihya Hashem Kreira.
71. Khalil Hassan Abu Obeid, 25. Khan Younis. Died from wounds sustained in protest earlier in the week.

Non-Palestinian killed by Israeli mob:

Eritrean asylum-seeker Haftom Zarhum killed in Beer Sheva bus station by angry mob who mistook him for a Palestinian- 10/18

Names of known Israeli casualties during the same time period:

1 & 2. 10/1 – Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, both aged around 30 years old, killed in drive-by shooting near Itamar settlement.
3. 10/3 – Nahmia Lavi, 41 – Rabbi for Israeli military. Killed in Jerusalem stabbing attack near Lion’s Gate when he tried to shoot the attacker but had his weapon taken.
4. 10/3 – Aaron Bennet, 24. Killed in Jerusalem stabbing attack near Lion’s Gate.
5. 10/13 – Yeshayahu Kirshavski, 60, bus shooting in East Jerusalem
6. 10/13 – Haviv Haim, 78, bus shooting in East Jerusalem
7. 10/13 – Richard Lakin, 76, bus shooting in East Jerusalem (died of wounds several days after the attack)
8. 10/18 – Omri Levy, 19, Israeli soldier with the Golani Brigade who had his weapon grabbed and turned against him by an Israeli resident.

An additional 2 Israelis that were initially claimed to have been killed in attacks were actually killed in car accidents.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Efforts to find political solution for Yemen failed: Houthis

Press TV – October 31, 2015

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says efforts to convene UN-backed peace talks to find a political solution to the ongoing crisis in the Arab country have failed.

“All understandings for a political solution leading to the cessation of aggression have failed,” Houthi spokesman Saleh al-Samad wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

Last week, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was hoping to begin separate preliminary talks with the Houthis and the government of Yemen’s fugitive President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, expecting formal negotiations between the two sides “in the coming weeks.”

The UN envoy wants the talks to focus on the main parts of UN Resolution 2216 — the withdrawal of Ansarullah fighters from the areas under their control, the release of prisoners, the improvement of humanitarian situation, and the resumption of political dialogue.

In early October, Houthi leaders announced that they would accept the UN-brokered peace plan, which also requires adherence to Resolution 2216, if other parties to the conflict also commit to the initiative.

In his Facebook post, Samad also called on the Houthis to resist the Saudi aggression against their country.

“We should be patient and move with strength and courage in the face of aggression, to fortify our country against domination,” he wrote, adding, “We must redouble our efforts and exert ourselves to the utmost, ensuring the sacrifices made by our people over the past months do not go to waste.”

Previous attempt to hold peace talks in Yemen failed in June as loyalists to Hadi backed away from the negotiations insisting that Ansarullah fighters and their army allies first withdraw.

Saudi Arabia began its deadly military aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – on March 26. The strikes are meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

At least 7,000 people have lost their lives in the Saudi strikes, and a total of nearly 14,000 people have been injured so far.

On Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a press conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh that the attacks may end soon, noting the acceptance of Resolution 2216 by the Houthis and affiliated groups.

The Ansarullah fighters took control of Sana’a in September 2014 and are currently in control of large parts of the country. The revolutionaries said Hadi’s government was incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and containing the growing wave of corruption and terror.

Hadi, along with the cabinet of former Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, stepped down in January.

On February 21, Hadi escaped house arrest in Sana’a and fled to his hometown Aden, where he withdrew his resignation and highlighted his intention to resume duties. He later fled the port city to Saudi Arabia.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Is War Beautiful?

By David Swanson | Let’s Try Democracy | October 28, 2015

“War Is Beautiful” is the ironic title of a beautiful new book of photographs. The subtitle is “The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict.” There’s an asterisk after those words, and it leads to these: “(In which the author explains why he no longer reads The New York Times ).” The author never explains why he read the New York Times to begin with.

The author of this remarkable book, David Shields, has selected color war photographs published on the front page of the New York Times over the last 14 years. He’s organized them by themes, included epigrams with each section, and added a short introduction, plus an afterword by Dave Hickey.

Some of us have long opposed subscribing to or advertising in the New York Times, as even peace groups do. We read occasional articles without paying for them or accepting their worldview. We know that the impact of the Times lies primarily in how it influences television “news” reports.

But what about Times readers? The biggest impact that the paper has on them may not be in the words it chooses and omits, but rather in the images that the words frame. The photographs that Shields has selected and published in a large format, one on each page, are powerful and fantastic, straight out of a thrilling and mythical epic. One could no doubt insert them into the new Star Wars movie without too many people noticing.

The photos are also serene: a sunset on a beach lined with palm trees — actually the Euphrates river; a soldier’s face just visible amid a field of poppies.

We see soldiers policing a swimming pool — perhaps a sight that will someday arrive in the Homeland, as other sights first seen in images from foreign wars already have. We see collective military exercises and training, as at a desert summer camp, full of camaraderie in crises. There’s adventure, sports, and games. A soldier looks pleased by his trick as he holds a dummy head with a helmet on the end of a stick in front of a window to get it shot at.

War seems both a fun summer camp and a serious, solemn, and honorable tradition, as we see photos of elderly veterans, militaristic children, and U.S. flags back Home. Part of the seriousness is the caring and philanthropic work exhibited by photos of soldiers comforting the children they may have just orphaned. We see sacred U.S. troops protecting the people whose land they have been bombing and throwing into turmoil. We see our heroes’ love for their visiting Commander, George W. Bush.

Sometimes war can be awkward or difficult. There’s a bit of regrettable suffering. Occasionally it is tragically intense. But for the most part a rather boring and undignified death about which no one really cares comes to foreigners (outside the United States there are foreigners everywhere ) who are left in the gutter as people walk away.

The war itself, centrally, is a technological wonder bravely brought out of the goodness of our superior hearts to a backward region in which the locals have allowed their very homes to turn to rubble. An empty settlement is illustrated by a photo of a chair in a street. There are water bottles upright on the ground. It looks as though a board meeting just ended.

Still, for all war’s drawbacks, people are mostly happy. They give birth and get married. Troops return home from camp after a good job done. Handsome Marines innocently mingle with civilians. Spouses embrace their camouflaged demigods returned from the struggle. A little American boy, held by his smiling mother, grins gleefully at the grave of his Daddy who died (happily, one must imagine) in Afghanistan.

At least in this selection of powerful images, we do not see people born with gruesome birth defects caused by the poisons of U.S. weapons. We do not see people married at weddings struck by U.S. missiles. We do not see U.S. corpses lying in the gutter. We do not see nonviolent protests of the U.S. occupations. We do not see the torture and death camps. We do not see the trauma of those who live under the bombs. We do not see the terror when the doors are kicked in, the way we would if soldiers — like police — were asked to wear body cameras. We do not see the “MADE IN THE USA” label on the weapons on both sides of a war. We do not see the opportunities for peace that have been studiously avoided. We do not see the U.S. troops participating in their number one cause of death: suicide.

A few of those things may show up now and then in the New York Times, more likely on a page other than the front one. Some of those things you may not want to see with your breakfast cereal. But there can be no question that Shields has captured a portrait of a day in the life of a war propagandist, and that the photographers, editors, and designers involved have done as much to cause the past 14 years of mass dying, suffering, and horror in the Middle East as has any single New York Times reporter or text editor.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Chemical weapons in Syria: Who is guilty?

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | October 31, 2015

Against the background of many complex events occurring in the Middle East, the West continues to accuse the Syrian government on a regular basis of using chemical weapons against its own population.

And this is taking place in spite of the well-known fact that the process of chemical demilitarization of Syria has been actually completed, and all chemical weapons were removed from the country long ago.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has admitted that only one percent of toxic substances removed from Syria remains to be destroyed at a commercial facility in the United States. As for the Syrian chemical weapons production facilities, it has been confirmed that 11 of the 12 sites have already been destroyed, and the remaining one is inaccessible to the government because of the current situation on the ground.

Despite this, our Western partners keep claiming that the Syrian government had initially submitted an incomplete declaration of the existing chemical weapons. However, they forget to mention that Damascus has agreed, as a gesture of goodwill, to establish a special OPCW mission for the verification of its initial declaration, although according to the Chemical Weapons Convention they were not obliged to do so. This mission is still working, and final conclusions have yet to be made.

There is a real concern that, according to available data, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has acquired access to technologies for chemical weapons production, the relevant documentation and production facilities. Reportedly, there have already been numerous chemical weapons attacks by IS militants in both Syria and Iraq. Moreover, there is evidence of them using not only chlorine but “real” chemical weapons – mustard gas and possibly lewisite, the production of which, by the way, requires rather sophisticated technologies.

In these circumstances, it is extremely important that the mandate of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria investigating possible use of toxic chemicals be extended to the territory of Iraq. A few weeks ago the Russian side prepared and introduced a UNSC draft resolution for this matter. Unfortunately, despite our repeated and persistent attempts the Security Council so far has failed to respond to those facts, primarily because of the position of our Western partners. In this regard, one can only wonder about the logic of the West, which declares its willingness to combat Islamic State, but at the same time does not bother to raise a finger to prevent this group from developing and using prohibited weapons.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

How soon until Justin Trudeau reveals his liberal imperialism?

By Yves Engler · October 30, 2015

Right-wing commentators are calling Justin Trudeau’s decision to withdraw fighter jets from Syria-Iraq “un Liberal” and unfortunately they’re right.

But, by citing the Liberal sponsored Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to justify Canadian participation in the US-led bombing, these pundits are revealing the essence of this “humanitarian imperialist” doctrine.

Last week senior Maclean‘s writer Michael Petrou called on Trudeau to rethink his commitment to stop Canadian bombing raids, writing “reasons for confronting Islamic State with force are decidedly Liberal. Your party pioneered the notion of ‘responsibility to protect’.” For his part, National Post columnist Matt Gurney bemoaned how “the Liberal Party of Canada once championed, at least with words, the so-called Responsibility to Protect doctrine.”

Ignored by the outgoing Conservative government, R2P was a showpiece of previous Liberal Party governments’ foreign-policy. In September 2000 Canada launched the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which presented its final report, The Responsibility to Protect, to the UN in December 2001. At the organization’s 2005 World Summit, Canada advocated that world leaders endorse the new doctrine. It asserts that where gross human rights abuses are occurring, it is the duty of the international community to intervene, over and above considerations of state sovereignty. The doctrine asserts that “the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.”

But who gets to decide when “gross human rights abuses” are occurring? Lesotho? Uruguay? Or the USA?

The truth is, human rights rhetoric aside, R2P is an effort to redefine international law to better serve the major powers. While the less sophisticated neoconservatives simply call for a more aggressive military posture, the more liberal supporters of imperialism prefer a high-minded ideological mask to accomplish the same end. Those citing R2P to pressure Trudeau to continue bombing Iraq-Syria are demonstrating an acute, but cynical, understanding of the doctrine.

R2P was invoked to justify the 2011 NATO war in Libya and 2004 overthrow of Haiti’s elected government. Both proved highly destructive to those “protected”.

As NATO’s bombing of Libya began a principal author of the R2P report, Ramesh Thakur, boasted that “R2P is coming closer to being solidified as an actionable norm.” Similarly, at the end of the war former Liberal Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Canadian Ambassador to the UN Allan Rock wrote: “In a fortuitous coincidence, last week’s liberation of Libya occurred exactly a decade after the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle was proposed by the Canadian-initiated International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS).”

But don’t expect R2P proponents to discuss Libya today. “Since Col Gaddafi’s death in Sirte in October 2011,” the BBC reported in August, “Libya has descended into chaos, with various militias fighting for power.” ISIS has taken control of parts of the country while a government in Tripoli and another in Benghazi claim national authority. The foreign intervention delivered a terrible blow to Libya and has exacerbated conflicts in the region.

Canadian officials also cited R2P to justify cutting off assistance to Haiti’s elected government and then intervening militarily in the country in February 2004. In discussing the January 2003 Ottawa Initiative on Haiti, where high level US, Canadian and French officials discussed overthrowing elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Liberal Secretary of State for Latin America and Minister for La Francophonie Dennis Paradis explained that “there was one thematic that went under the whole meeting… The responsibility to protect.” Similarly, in a highly censored February 11, 2004 cable from the embassy in Port-au-Prince to Foreign Affairs, Canadian ambassador Kenneth Cook explained that “President Aristide is clearly a serious aggravating factor in the current crisis” and that there is a need to “consider the options including whether a case can be made for the duty [responsibility] to protect.”

Thousands of Haitians were killed in the violence unleashed by the coup and the country remains under UN military occupation.

It’s telling that neo-conservative supporters of the discredited Harper government are now the ones invoking R2P.

Will Trudeau discard the doctrine or quickly reveal himself as just another liberal imperialist?

October 31, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment